SAN DIEGO, CA (KGTV) — The future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program remains unclear as a federal appeals court heard arguments Wednesday.
The three-judge panel on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans listened to arguments in favor and against upholding a DACA ruling by a Texas judge last year.
“I was brought here to the U.S. at the age of four, and had been a part of my community for 35 years,” said Dulce Garcia, a DACA recipient and immigration attorney in San Diego. Garcia credits DACA for helping her get to where she is now.
“With DACA, I have been able to step into court to represent my clients,” she said. “Having peace of mind that I'm not going to be deported, at least for today.”
The DACA program was put in place under the Obama Administration a decade ago, protecting people who were brought to the U.S. as children, from deportation.
According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, there are at least 611,000 DACA recipients, with the majority from Mexico.
The program has faced legal challenges for years now.
“I'm one of the plaintiffs, one of the DACA recipients that sued President Trump when he tried to take DACA away in 2017, we were able to have wins in the lower courts and we took our case to the Supreme Court,” said Garcia. “We celebrated the moment that we heard the Supreme Court was going to protect DACA in 2020.”
But last year a judge in Texas ruled that DACA was unlawful, blocking the government from approving new applications. Current enrollees were allowed to continue in the program for now.
Wednesday a three-judge panel in a federal appeals court in New Orleans heard arguments about the legality of the program, from those in favor and against.
The lawsuit brought on by Texas and several other states claims DACA puts an undue burden on states and costs millions.
Something supporters like Garcia, disagree with, saying she pays taxes and contributes to society.
“I'm not holding my breath for the decision in the appellate court, we do know that if it's not favorable, it will be going to the Supreme Court,” she said.
Garcia says she and others will continue pushing for comprehensive immigration reform.
“Having a work permit is not enough, we need a path to citizenship,” she said.
A ruling could come down in the coming months.